Wednesday, June 25, 2008


"The Catholic Church was a special target for liquidation," said Sister Margaret Nacke. "...Since we sisters are public representatives of the Church, we were some of the first targets."

And despite the fact their religion was forbidden, women continued through four decades to join these religious orders in Eastern Europe, practicing their faith in secret and always in fear of being discovered by the communists.

Nacke cited case after case of sisters who were imprisoned for years on charges such as treason. One nun spent 11 months in solitary confinement.

"Sister Gerta in Romania was sent to a couple of prisons. The last one was underground. Air was pumped down three times a day," said Nacke. "Sister Ann in Hungary escaped in 1951 with 18 people. As they escaped, one of the sisters was shot and died on the spot. Another was sent back to prison. Only seven came through. She was one of them."

Nacke also talked about the "secret sisters," women who entered religious life during the underground period. Sometimes hiding this from their families, they would sign papers to enter religious life and then burn them to protect themselves. Nacke talked about a secret sister who had access to a habit to wear to take her vows and then immediately took it off, not to wear one again until the fall of communism. They practiced their religion at great risk.

"Can it happen again? Who can say?" remarked Nacke. "We only know it's a question we must never stop asking."

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